The National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM) joins President Barack Obama’s national agenda to promote clean energy innovation and announced its “Green The City” Initiative on Earth Day. This initiative targets three primary areas: city conversion to clean energy vehicles, green-collar job creation and training, and the expansion of biomass energy production. This three-pronged strategy aims to reduce U.S. fossil fuel energy dependence, slow the pace of global climate change and establish a robust green economy in our cities. NCBM Mayors are aggressively moving to organize their communities to fully participate in the Green The City initiative.
The NCBM plan for the greening of our cities will introduce cutting-edge technologies through the creation of green parks, implementation of new energy technologies such as fuel cell, wind and solar energy; green sustainable housing and buildings; energy efficiency and conservation, heightened recycling, redevelopment of brownfields and the creation of local certification programs for green jobs through partnerships with community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
“Green economic development is the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” said NCBM Executive Director Vanessa R. Williams. “Communities of color must be included in this pivotal national movement on new energy and new technologies in order to address and redress the historic economic disparities, social inequalities and environmental injustices that have adversely affected the disenfranchised and vulnerable in our nation’s cities.”
Our nation’s mayors will begin with plans to convert their city’s automobile fleet to hybrid and electric vehicles by 2015, upon completing an assessment of their city vehicles and implementing policy to mandate the consideration of electric and hybrid vehicles in the vehicle purchase process. Mayors will achieve this goal through the leveraging of funding tools such as the US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program under the Recovery Act.
“This first step is easily adaptable to all cities, as environmentally caustic autos are replaced by green vehicles. We are in accordance with and support the President’s goal to place 1 million plug-in hybrid vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015, beginning with the federal auto fleet,” said Mayor Robert Bowser of East Orange, N.J. “With mayors plugging into the President’s Green Plan for the nation, we say, yes we can, speed past Toronto, Canada in its efforts to become the first North American city to put the electric car on the road wide-scale.”
The second focus of the Green The City initiative is the expansion of local green economies through green-collar job creation and training. Our Mayors will work to ensure that green job training and entrepreneurship occur at the local level. The commitment to invest in our communities through the stimulus bill will empower our cities to maximize our local potential. Through the innovation of small businesses and leveraging of public/private partnerships, we can exceed our President’s goal of establishing 3.5 million jobs.
“There is a reported labor shortage of qualified skilled workers in current and developing clean energy industries. We must enable our constituents to take advantage of the employment opportunities available at every wage and skill level in the various growing green industries,” said Mayor Roosevelt Dorn of Inglewood, Calif. “The mandate to ease the economic suffering in our communities resulting from the astronomical unemployment rates can be resolved through sustainable transportation, green economic and workforce development.”
The third focus of the Green The City initiative is the expansion of biomass energy production and the inclusion of marginalized communities. The production of renewable energy through energy-rich agricultural processes provides a significant economic opportunity for Black farmers and rural areas that have been plagued by persistent poverty and institutionalized racism.
“Rural communities of color have the opportunity to enter the new green economy through the production of biomass. If we begin to organize all of the farming resources, in our communities, to the production of biofuels, we can reduce our foreign dependence on oil by up to 25 percent,” said Mayor Kevin Johnson, President of the NCBM South Carolina State Chapter. “NCBM has been and will continue to work with partners on both the federal, state and local level. Through our initiative, we will strengthen our established partnerships with organizations such as the Corporation for Economic Opportunity and extend the ongoing hard work of Congressional members who have fought on behalf of Black farmers such as Democratic Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC). For many of our mayors in rural communities serve as both mayor and farmer.”
© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.